When Is Your Script Ready To Shop?
I’m writing this blog because a lot of beginning screenwriters think that once they’ve finished writing their first draft that they can send it out to producers or agents or any number of famous people and get it sold. This can actually do you more damage than good. With all do respect to all of you newbs out there, your first draft is shit! Hell, your first script is shit! And if you go showing it to the powers that be, it could destroy your chances of getting a meeting with them in the future when you’ve actually learned a thing or two about screenwriting.
I would wager that no screenwriter has ever sold the very first script they’ve ever written. Oaky, maybe there’s one guy out there, but he wrote many other screenplays after his first. And he most likely sold other screenplays before rewriting his first script and making it worthy. I digress. Here are a few things that you should do before you try to sell your script:
Read your script from beginning to end from an objective point of view. I know it can be very difficult to look at your own work objectively, so here’s a little tip to help with that: set it aside for a few months. Forget about it. Don’t read it until you’ve forgotten how the story goes, then when you read it again, you can read with a reader’s eye and not a parent’s eye.
Once you’ve given it a once over with a fresh outlook it’ll be easier to determine which scenes can stay and which scenes should be axed. How do you know which scenes should be axed? Are you new here? It’s the scenes that don’t move the story forward. And the best way I’ve found to determine that is through a reverse outline.
Submit To Contests
Once you’ve done a rewrite or two… or ten, then it’s time to submit it to contests. There are tons of contests out there that you can submit to and find out how your little pearl stacks up against thousands of other writers. Don’t get too discouraged when your script doesn’t place though. It doesn’t mean your script is bad. It just means that there are others out there that are better than yours. And that’s okay, because you’re a newb. And the only way to improve is to keep practicing. That means you’ll need to do some rewrites and submit it to more contests.
Get Professional Notes
Now it’s time to seek professional help. No, not from a shrink, from a script consultant. That’s right, pay someone to tell you how shitty your screenplay is. Be sure you do your research. You don’t want to pay a lot to get advice from someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. It’s best to get script notes from sites that offer them on a discount when you submit your script to their contest.
Keep in mind that not every note needs to be taken, but every note should be considered. Keep an open mind. Again, stay object. Maybe try out the note before you decide to discard it. Maybe even give your script to a couple of readers and compare notes. After you’ve done another rewrite utilizing the notes you’ve been given, send it out for more notes. Key point, you can send it to the same consultants, but it may be more helpful to get someone else’s opinion after the rewrite.
Submit To Agents
You still may not feel like it’s ready to shop. That’s a good sign. It’s always the ones that are overconfident that have the worst scripts. Send it out to a few agents to see if you get any bites. You may want to hold off on sending it to producers until you hear back, or don’t, from the agents. Sometimes you may find that you just need to scrap the script and finish one of those other ones you’ve been working on. What!? You haven’t been writing other scripts!? You know the drill! Until next week, KEEP WRITING!